We know that local people are frustrated about how long it has taken to reach this point. There have been many conversations about how we can resolve the longstanding issues facing Epsom and St Helier hospitals. This is why the three CCGs have come together to ensure that hospital services stay within the combined areas of Surrey Downs, Sutton and Merton for generations to come.
Over the last few years, we have listened to and involved thousands of local people, including NHS staff, patients and community groups. There are some very difficult decisions to make and we take these very seriously.
We have and are continuing to take into account the views of people and organisations across a very large geographical area and that takes time. It also takes time to consider and develop new clinical models and collect all the data and evidence needed to make decisions.
In addition, we have followed a robust NHS England assurance process, which involves a large number of meetings and assurance panels both locally, regionally and nationally. We have to follow these processes. We also have to ensure that the funding was in place to take our proposals forward before starting the consultation process. We can only consult on options that are affordable and able to be delivered.
The funding is now confirmed. In September 2019, we were allocated £500 million to improve the current buildings at Epsom and St Helier hospitals as well as build a new specialist emergency care hospital on one of the three sites – Epsom, St Helier or Sutton.